Why do we spend our lives in resistance? Because resistance maintains our sense of who we are by saying 'no' to everything that doesn't support our identity. Identity is maintained by repetitious thoughts spoken by authoritarian voices telling endless stories about who we are and then judging us for not measuring up to some ill-defined standard. [...] Identity is maintained by never examining the belief that 'IF I FEEL THIS, I MUST DO THAT.' The message is that resistance is necessary because life is threatening.
When resistance fails to produce the desired changes in our lives, we rarely let go, move into the present, and see other possibilities. We tighten more, tense harder, and attempt to control more completely. But resistance does not lead to change. Acceptance leads to change. (Cheri Huber, from When You're Falling, Dive: Acceptance, Freedom, and Possibility, pp. 7-8.)
Last week, I struggled with an intractable issue at my daughter's high school. The details of the story don't matter because when it comes to resistance, the lived experience is the same, regardless of particulars.
Resistance boils down to "Something did or didn't happen. I don't like it. I need it to be different, and I won't rest until it is," and when the need is not met, we continue to resist that reality. The principal made a decision. I hated it, as did other parents. A debate ensued, and I weighed in a few times. My tone and diction got stronger as I saw the chances of changing her mind get smaller.
I was frustrated and indignant. The voice-in-my-head wound up, railing against wrongheadedness and rigid bureaucracies. I perceived a "threat" and believed I had to resist it, and when it looked like I was going to "lose," I clamped down and resisted all the more.
By week's end, a compromise was struck. It isn't much of one. The voice-in-my-head says, "It's not good enough," "I'm not good enough because I failed to change the situation for my kid," and "You can't fight City Hall, sucker, so why bother trying?" The "authoritarian voices... judging us for not measuring up to some ill-defined standard" cause us so much suffering, and it's all suffering of our own making.
Expressing resistance to a situation may (or may not) lead to change, but experiencing resistance certainly doesn't. "Acceptance leads to change," says Huber. That doesn't imply that we should turn away when something needs to be changed in our world. Rather, I think she means that when we're in a tangle, we find freedom in letting go of our beliefs, opinions, and ego, even momentarily. There's freedom when we stop resisting what life hands us and we give up the need to be right. In the ensuing silence, we can listen for a "deeper wisdom than conditioned opinions to guide us..." (Huber, p. 15).
What are you resisting?
for Mindful Monday
© May 5, 2014, post, Donna Pierce
Source: Huber, Cheri. When You're Falling, Dive: Acceptance, Freedom, and Possibility. Murphys, CA: Keep It Simple Books, 2003.
Photo credit: "the_man_pushing_the_wall_by_27Kingdom." Found on: http://hockaday-physics-wyatt.wikispaces.com/Energy+NEW
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